My line manager came into my office last week to thank me. Just one sentence: "Thank you, Valerie, for the wonderful work you do." I broke into a broad smile, full of pride. In that moment, I'm sure I stood a few inches taller!
A week after my boss voiced her appreciation, I'm still feeling the benefits. My motivation has soared, I'm more willing to be creative, even if it means the occasional failure, and I'm more productive.
You've likely experienced the powerful emotional and physical impact of appreciation yourself at some point.
"Appreciate" (written by David Sturt, Todd Nordstrom, Kevin Ames, and Gary Beckstrand) aims to prove to leaders that showing appreciation is one of the most important things they can do.
With 30 years' experience as an educator, I know that appreciating someone's unique skills through a word or action can trigger a plethora of positive behaviors, and can even change lives.
People have told me that the appreciation I showed for their unique qualities helped them to achieve their dreams. Often, they can cite my exact words or actions.
So, I'm in total agreement with the authors of "Appreciate," whose research has shown that, even though financial rewards are fantastic, what people really want is recognition for their unique contributions.
One of my first jobs was in a prestigious London university. I worked conscientiously, often far beyond my contracted hours, with no word of validation or thanks.
I felt invisible, and increasingly low. Inevitably, I found another job. At my farewell party, I was finally made aware of how much my unique skills were appreciated. My colleagues had even bought me a gift they knew I'd love – a beautiful leather satchel. Sadly, it was too late.
The authors of "Appreciate" make it very clear that you can appreciate the value of an individual, but it's also crucial to recognize their value in your words or actions. Communication is key – just one word could inspire someone to greatness.
A spoken "thank you," or a note or small material reward for effort (or even just for meeting expectations) is all it takes to show appreciation. It's simply a matter of knowing the individual and making your appreciation known.
A light bulb illuminated in my brain when I read the chapter, "Encourage Effort."
When you applaud hard work, rather than results, you're encouraging people to persevere. I find this particularly relevant in my own work. I often pitch ideas for articles, and my self-esteem would be pretty shaky if I only rewarded myself for success.
So I make a point of including a "well done for trying" section in my daily journal. This helps me to feel good about myself and boost my resilience. I have no control over outcomes, only the effort I put in.
Renowned psychologist Carol Dweck also discusses this insight in her influential 2007 book, "Mindset." She describes how praising people's results only proves to them that trying is irrelevant. But when you praise people's efforts, it encourages a dedication to learning, trying and doing.
People who receive appreciation are more efficient, happy and motivated. However, in "Appreciate," I learned that showing appreciation also affects the giver, as well as everyone who witnesses the appreciation.
The message comes across loud and clear: we're aware of your unique skills and we value your contribution. Showing appreciation creates a culture of collaboration and care.
In my experience, appreciation is at the heart of all good relationships. As the authors succinctly put it on the first page, "There is nothing louder than the silence where thanks should be." It's a no-brainer. Appreciating those around us is one thing we can all do to make everyone happier, more creative, and more productive.
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How do you show your appreciation at work, and what impact does it have? Share your experiences in the Comments section, below.
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